Nasser Kanaani, the spokesperson for the Iranian Foreign Ministry

Iran Continues Efforts for Release of Official Arrested in France

Monday, 06/10/2024

Tehran has announced ongoing efforts to secure the release of Bashir Biazar, a former managing director of the state broadcaster who has been detained in France and is awaiting deportation.

Nasser Kanaani, the spokesperson for the Iranian Foreign Ministry, said Monday that diplomatic actions have been taken since the moment they were informed of Biazar’s arrest, without elaborating further.

“The Foreign Ministry and the Iranian Embassy have been actively following up on his case through diplomatic notes and phone calls,” he noted, adding that the ministry has also discussed his release with the French ambassador in Tehran, Nicolas Roche.

Biazar, who was in charge of the state TV’s music office, is currently in administrative detention—a procedure utilized for urgent deportation cases under French law.

Sources informed Iran International on Friday that the deportation process for Biazar is in progress following his detention. While Iranian officials assert that his arrest is linked to his anti-Israel activities, sources have disclosed to Iran International that he is facing multiple security-related charges. The nature of these charges is not clear, although in similar cases in the past Iranian diplomats and government employees abroad were found to have had links with Tehran's security and intelligence organs.

Biazar has resided in France since 2022 on a long-term family visa due to his wife’s residency. Prior to his arrest, he posted a video of his speech at the UN Human Rights Council last November, in which he criticized Israel and the sanctions imposed on Iran. Previously living in London, Biazar Identified himself as the secretary of the Iran-backed Islamic Student Association of London in interviews with Iran’s state-run outlets such as the IRGC's Tasnim News Agency. He was later forced to leave the UK.

This incident comes amidst the ongoing imprisonment of several French citizens in Iran, including Cécile Kohler, Jacques Paris, and Louis Arnaud.

Reaction To GCC Statement

Elsewhere in his press briefing, Kanaani rejected a statement issued by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Sunday, reiterating concerns over Iran's nuclear program and support for the UAE’s claim on three Iranian islands in the Persian Gulf, as well as Kuwait’s and Saudi Arabia’s claim over a disputed oil and gas field in the Persian Gulf.

A photo showing Iran hoisting its flag over one of the three islands in 1971.

"The Iranian islands of Abu Musa, Greater Tunb, and Lesser Tunb are an inseparable and eternal part of the territory of the Islamic Republic of Iran," Kanani emphasized. "Any claim to the three islands is an interference in Iran's internal affairs and territorial integrity, and we strongly condemn it."

On Sunday, the foreign ministers of the GCC issued a statement following their meeting in Doha, expressing their support for "the sovereignty of the United Arab Emirates over the three islands.”

The UAE, which claims sovereignty over the three islands in the Persian Gulf, has on several occasions called for the matter to be referred to the International Court of Justice in The Hague in recent decades.

Since the British withdrew from what is now the UAE in 1971, the three islands in the Persian Gulf have been disputed. That year, Iran's then-monarch, Mohammad Reza Shah, ordered the country's navy to occupy all three islands. Iranian forces continue to be stationed there, with only Abu Musa having a significant civilian population of several thousand.

Additionally, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia insist that Iran has no right over Arash/al-Durra maritime field in a shared area, asserting their “exclusive” right over the field. Called Arash in Iran and Durra or Dorra by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait -- the offshore field was discovered in 1967 and is estimated to have a total proven reserves of around 310 million barrels of oil and 20 trillion cubic feet of gas.

Iran claims any development without its consent breaks international laws, as 40 percent of the field is located in its territorial waters. However, Saudi Aramco Gulf Operations Company signed a Memorandum of Understanding in 2022 with Kuwait Gulf Oil Company (KGOC) to develop the joint gas field, leaving Iran out of the project. Outraged by the snub, Iran keeps saying it has a stake in the field and calls the Saudi-Kuwaiti agreement "illegal".

In its statement, the GCC also expressed concern over Iran's nuclear program, stressing the importance of Tehran’s commitment not to exceed its uranium enrichment to weapons-grade.

At the end of every summit, the GCC issues a similar statement, which contains several clauses related directly to Iran, the Iranian nuclear program, and the UAE's claim over the three islands as well as the joint gas field. Last month, China’s backing for the statement prompted Iran to summon Beijing’s envoy.

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